Health situation and trend assessment

Underweight in children

Prevalence of underweight children <5 years of age

Target: Halve between 1990 and 2015 (50% reduction)

The prevalence of underweight in children under five years of age reflects child growth. It is measured as the percentage of children less than five years of age whose weights are more than 2 standard deviations below the median of a standard population such as that of NCHS/WHO table of child weights.

Child malnutrition as reflected by body weight increases their risk of death, inhibits their cognitive development, and affects health status later in life. Being underweight may also reflect wasting (i.e. low weight-for-height ratio) and/or stunting (i.e. low height-for-age ratio).

Situation in SEAR

Member states have made considerable progress in tackling malnutrition. Four out of 11 SEA Region countries have already achieved their 2015 targets, and the other four are on track to achieve by 2015 if their current rates of progress on this indicator continue. The progress made by the remaining three countries (IND, MMR, TLS) has been slow. They need to accelerate the rate of progress in order to close the gap between what is expected by 2015 at the current rates and the 2015 target. In terms of percentage of the target value this gap for these three countries is 12%, 18%, and 58%, respectively.

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